chapter  XI
6 Pages

A Social Democratic Editor

M a g d e b u r g , situated on the middle reaches of the river Elbe, is one of the oldest cities in Germany, dating back to the beginning of the ninth century. In my time it numbered 200,000 inhabitants, and was the administrative centre of the Prussian province of Saxony (as distinguished from the Kingdom of Saxony with Dresden as its capital). The Magde­ burg Cathedral, a Romanesque-Gothic structure, has some interest for Englishmen: it contains the tomb of Kaiser Otto the Great (died 973) and his first wife Editha (died 946), daughter of the Anglo-Saxon King Aethelstan. The economic life of Magdeburg appeared to be singularly well-balanced. The broad belt of agriculture, with its open fields of corn, sugar-beet, and potatoes, which surrounded it; the many cargo boats plying on the Elbe and carrying goods from Bohemia, the Kingdom of Saxony, and of its own production northwards to Hamburg; the large iron, engineering, and chemical works on its outskirts, brought prosperity to its burghers and merchants, and employment to its workpeople. Still, I sadly missed the polished culture and warm cheer­ fulness of the Rhineland. From about 1830 to 1870 the lower middle class, the craftsmen and journeymen-the bulk of the population-were Liberal, Radical, and free-thinking. After the victories of Prussia and the formation of the German Reich, the population split more and more into hardened Conservatives and bewildered Social Democrats, while Liberalism was dwindling to a doctrinaire, well-meaning sect, appealing vainly to the working people to return to its fold. My work on the Volksstimme was pleasant and quite

absorbing. I willingly worked for twelve or fourteen hours daily, since the whole editorial staff consisted of two persons.